What Does it Mean for a College or University to be Nationally Accredited?

When you are choosing an institution to attend to earn your college degree, it is important to consider the reputation of the school. A college must offer high-quality degree programs that include curriculum that meets the standards of higher learning agencies to be considered reputable. There many types of accrediting agencies that set the standards and oversee institutions who apply for the voluntary evaluation process. In fact, there are dozens of regional, specialized and national agencies that are well-known in the United States. If you are trying to differentiate between national and regional accreditation, read on and learn what you need to know.

How Do National and Regional Accreditation Differ?

Regional accreditation is based on geography and national accreditation is based on specific types of schools that has nothing to do with the region that they are based in. There are several different national bodies that evaluate colleges that offer specific types of programs or specific types career or vocational schools. Because these are not the traditional colleges or the traditional degree programs, the course content requirements are modeled much differently than a regional accreditation. With the modes of study in a career or non-traditional school being so unique, national agencies are the only third-party bodies that can compare trade schools or specialty schools to similar schools in its category.

Why Is it So Important to Look for a Nationally Accredited School?

Now that you understand the basic differences between a regional and national accreditation agency, the next step to choosing the best school is understanding why choosing a school with accreditation is so important. The only time that you will need to choose a school with a national accreditation is when you plan on attending a trade school, religious school, vocational school, distance education program or other non-traditional institution.

There are a variety of reasons that you should choose a school with an accreditation recognized by the US Department of Education, and one major reason is because you are guaranteed that the credits that you earn are transferable. By choosing a school that meets accrediting standards, you will have peace of mind in knowing that the credits that you earn from the school can be used towards credit requirements at other accredited schools.

Another important advantage to consider is the acceptability by prospective employers. The entire purpose of earning your degree or professional certificate is to attract employers or meet licensing requirements. If you take a degree program that is not highly recognized by employers, it completely defeats the purpose of attending school. By checking the U.S. Department of Education’s official database to look for nationally accredited schools that are highly viewed by employers, you do not have to worry about wasting time or money.

You need to be equipped to make a college selection that is best for you before you submit applications for admissions or even for financial aid. Make sure that you consider the types of colleges, the types of programs, and the reputation of the school that you are interested in attending before you approach the process with a one-size-fits-all mindset. Choose a Council for Higher Education Accreditation body, and you can improve your future and take advantage of opportunities that you would not have if you were to attend a sub-par school.